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Your Physician is a D.O. | OMT: Hands - on Care


There Are Two Types
of complete, comprehensive physicians in the United States. One has a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine) degree and the other has an M.D. (doctor of medicine) degree. So what's the difference?

First, let's define what we mean by "complete" or "comprehensive" physician. In general, both types of physicians are fully trained and have taken the prescribed amount of premedical training, graduated from an undergraduate college and received four additional years of training in a medical school. After medical school, D.O.'s and M.D.'s can choose to practice in a specialty area of medicine - such as psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics - after completing a residency program; typically two to six years of additional training.

Whether one becomes a D.O. or an M.D. the route of medical education and training is basically the same.

D.O.'s and M.D.'s Are Alike
in that they both utilize all scientifically accepted methods of diagnosis and treatment, including the use of drugs and surgery.

D.O.'s and M.D.'s must meet state licensure requirements to practice medicine in the United States. In Missouri, as in most other states, both are licensed by the same Board of Healing Arts and licensure requirements and examinations are equivalent.

D.O.'s and M.D.'s Are Different
When the similarities between the two medical groups are discussed, the question is frequently asked: "Why two separate medical groups and schools of medicine?"

The reasons are numerous, but the main reasons are relatively simple.

Osteopathic medicine differs in terms of philosophy and its approach to the delivery of health. For example, osteopathic medicine places more emphasis on the consideration of the whole person in providing medical care and treatment. This is reflected by the large percentage of D.O.'s that enter family practice or the medical specialties involved in primary care medicine.

Over one-half of the D.O.'s are involved in primary care areas, such as pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology and internal medicine. Many osteopathic physicians fill a critical need for doctors by practicing in rural and medically underserved areas, reflecting the osteopathic tradition of bringing health care to areas of greatest need.

The growing public acceptance of osteopathic medicine and the increasing demand for health care by osteopathic physicians and surgeons indicates the public's desire for two organized groups of medicine.

D.O.'s Offer An Additional Dimension
to their patients and the health care delivery system. The D.O. recognizes that the musculoskeletal system makes up over 60% of the body mass. They recognize that all body systems, including the musculoskeletal system, are interdependent and a disturbance in one system causes altered functions in other systems of the body. Therefore, the osteopathic physician treats the entire patient not just a system, body area, or disease. D.O.'s use structural diagnosis and manipulative therapy in addition to all other traditional forms of diagnosis and treatment.

Although the osteopathic profession is a minority group in size, statistics show that Americans turn to osteopathic physicians for comprehensive medical care, totaling over 100 million patient-visits annually. These statistics only add further evidence that the public desires and benefits from a choice in medical care.

Therefore, the osteopathic profession will continue to remain an independent medical profession, offering the public a choice in medical care, "Osteopathic medicine: something more; not something different."

In Summary and Review,
the osteopathic physician (D.O.), a complete, comprehensive health care provider is entitled to practice medicine and surgery in all 50 states and should be included in any discussion when the reference is directed toward physicians or providers of unlimited, comprehensive medical care. Comparing osteopathic physicians to those health care providers with only limited practice rights is totally inappropriate.

Having clarified these are two completely trained and qualified groups of physicians and surgeons, osteopathic (D.O.) and allopathic (M.D.), we summarize some interesting facts and statistic relative to the osteopathic profession.

Fact and Statistics:

  • D.O. means Doctor of Osteopathy or osteopathic physician.
  • There are over 1,800 D.O.'s in the Missouri and approximate 55,000 D.O.s in the U.S.
  • In 2006 there were move than 13,000 students enrolled in osteopathic medicine programs.
  • Kirksville, Missouri is known as the home of osteopathic medicine. This is where Dr. A.T. Still first described the unique concept of health care called osteopathic medicine in 1874.
  • The basis of osteopathic medicine is found in theories of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, viewing the human body as a single unit.
  • Missouri has two osteopathic colleges A.T. Still University - Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences - College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • D.O.'s and M.D.s must meet licensing requirements to practice medicine in the U.S. In Missouri, both are licensed by the Board of Registration for Health Arts. Licensure requirements are equivalent.
  • Osteopathic physicians serve on the professional medical staff with the same rights and privileges of the allopathic (M.D.) physicians.
  • D.O.'s serve as commissioned officers in medical corps of all U.S. armed forces
  • Health care provided by osteopathic physicians is reimbursed under Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance plans.
  • According to a study funded by the Kellogg Foundations, osteopathic medicine is America's fastest growing health care profession.
  • Osteopathic medical schools are being heralded by health care reformers as models for primary care training.
  • Osteopathic physicians practice in all specialties of medicine.
  • Of tremendous significance to osteopathic medicine is the musculoskeletal system because the system makes of 60% of the body including bones, muscles, tendons, tissues, nerves, and spinal column.
  • Osteopathic medicine provides comprehensive medical care including diagnosis, appropriate drug therapy and surgery plus the added dimension of manipulative therapy.
  • Osteopathic manipulation of the musculoskeletal system is viable and proven technique for diagnosis and treatment. It frequently provides an alternative to drug therapy.
  • Osteopathic physicians have for many years practiced preventive medicine, emphasizing physical fitness, exercise and proper diet. Therefore, sports medicine was a natural out growth of osteopathic medicine with concern for diet, exercise and physical fitness.
  • Treating the “whole body” concept makes osteopathic physicians effective in dealing with the general all-round health of their patients.

Brian Bowles, Executive Director
Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons - Copyright 2017
1423 Randy Lane, Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: 573-634-3415   Fax: 573-634-5635   E-mail: contact@maops.org

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